On Love and Marriage

Swiftly dismantling the laziest and most persistent argument against gay marriage, barring ‘it’s just not natural.’

The first of a six-part series on social and sexual issues, and Other Problematic Things.

I stand in an abstract mental space, opposite my non-descript intellectual opponent. They have many faces. Sometimes they’re a lady in a queue; other times they’re one of The Daily Fail’s hired trolls; sometimes they’re a boorish acquaintance making terrible dinner party conversation. 

“What I don’t understand,” puffs my companion, “is why gay marriage is even an issue. Marriage is a religious institution. Of course gay people can’t get married. [Insert religion here] can’t stand The Gays!”

I am displeased. They repeat themselves a few times.

“Ergo gay marriage cannot be,” they finish, triumphant and full of air, like a nervous toad. The legality of gay marriage in England is new to them, swept under the doormat. They haven’t been invited to any gay marriages yet, so it probably isn’t really going to happen.

One of the many joys of the Internet is that when you grow tired of repeating yourself to those you disagree with in real life, you can stick your opinions online and tacitly hand out web links instead. You receive the odd dissenting comment in an email, but it’s altogether much more pleasant than being shouted over by someone who’s argument consists almost entirely of ‘to be fair…’ and ‘the thing is…’ when all you were looking for was a quiet recreational activity of some sort or another. If only I could take off my Social Justice Hat.

Perhaps this is simply coincidence, but I run into this anti-gay-marriage argument everywhere (it’s over, let it go). There’s a grain of truth in it, of course; the UK’s main religious denominations aren’t typically keen on homosexuals. They’re not keen on atheists either, though, and no one’s trying to stop us getting married. There is literally no limit to the number of times I can non-religiously get married, as long as I play by the rules and get a divorce or annulment between each one. I can actually marry my cousin if I want to (I don’t). And if I do get married, I get a better pension share than my civilly partnered friends when my spouse pops their clogs; my honey and I can live abroad together sans issues and we get a high five from society the world over for keeping the whole marital circus alive.

I think it’s worth pointing out here that Archbishop Oscar Cruz recently stated that he was all for gay people getting married. He was, however, talking about gay men marrying gay women, in the hopes that they can consummate their way out of their Catholicism-flouting gayness. (As if Catholicism isn’t the most camp of ALL religions anyway.)

Same-sex marriage will shelter under the wide, tolerant umbrella of secular marriage as long as secular marriage is legally recognised. I might also point out that opposite-sex couples can’t get civil partnerships, which isn’t fair on the straight couples who really, really want rubbish pension security. ‘Separate but equal’ isn’t a road we want to go down, nor one we need to, just as long as everyone’s willing to share. “But it’s destroying the institution of marriage!” cries my companion, leaping up from their seat. Of course that’s not true; the less elitist marriage becomes, the more likely it is to remain a relevant cultural tradition, rather than slinking into the gutter and down the drain, as our society blossoms into a more tolerant one that actually values the LGBT+ community as equal citizens. Gay marriage is, of course, only the very tip of the iceberg; LGBT rights in general are still dramatically under-prioritised in UK society.

In the interest of a light-hearted ending to the rather militant tangent we’ve taken (read it again and imagine my bared teeth and steely gaze), I leave you with the delightful Dorothy Parker, who quipped, as she was wont to do, that ‘heterosexuality is not normal, it’s just common.’

Now stop trying to soil our rainbow.

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